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A properly installed roof should last between 15 and 50 years.

And on average, most homeowners only stay in their homes for 13 years.

So, the best time to figure out when a roof needs replacing is before you buy your new house.

Beyond being one of the most expensive repairs a homeowner can undertake, the damage from a leaky roof can also create a toxic environment for you and your loved ones.

By knowing these 8 signs of a bad roofing job, you can help keep your investment and family safe!

Smooth Sailing

A solid roofing job should appear smooth and even throughout.

If you can see nailheads popping up through your roofing material or rippling occurring anywhere, you should call a roofing contractor immediately.

Nail heads eventually create holes in all types of roofing.  Even small holes can be the source of significant damage.

Rippling and bending of roofing materials are telltale signs of poor installation. As your roof bakes in the sun for years and years, these spots are susceptible to cracking and breaking.

Even without walking on your roof, these issues should be easily visible without leaving your ladder.

Down in the Valley

The valleys of a roof are the most susceptible areas to water intrusion.

As snow and ice can potentially build up here in the winter, any damage to this area will almost certainly lead to water ending up inside your home. 

Water should flow unimpeded to your gutters.

So, if you see dips and cracks in the valley of the roof or missing shingles, it’s probably time to get a professional roofing inspection.


Often a glaring example of poor roofing occurs at the perimeter of a home’s chimney.

In addition to repairing your roof, fixing a chimney is an overwhelming project and one of a homeowner’s most costly expenses.

If you are experiencing any damage in and around your chimney, the first thing to check is whether there is a proper rain cap installed.

If your chimney cap is looking good and water is not coming in from the top, it is probably coming in where your shingle meets the brick.

A good roofing contractor will install proper flashing and create a watertight barrier, keeping your fireplace dry all winter long.


In addition to your chimney, your roof might also be home to satellite dishes, plumbing vents or exhausts running from a bathroom or laundry room.

Any screw, pipe or vent that goes through your roof is a potential pathway for the elements to get into your house.

Exhaust fans should be installed with proper flashing and plumbing vents are often surrounded by watertight rubber sleeves and tar.

If there are any other objects screwed into the roofing material such as TV and internet antennae, make sure they are secured tightly, and all fastening screws coated with some waterproofing material.

Solid as a Rock

Being able to walk around your roof is the best way to check for trouble, but only do so if you feel comfortable. Safety should be your number one priority.

As you step around your roof, make sure there aren’t any soft spots or weak areas underfoot. 

If water has crept through, it can rot the decking underneath your roof.

In addition to being a potential area where the elements can get through, this is also a major safety hazard.

Please call a professional immediately if you have discovered any spongy footing while walking on your roof.

A properly installed roof starts with replacing any rotten or damaged wood before recovering with new shingles or other material.

Over and Over

Some roofing companies offer a low price to leave old shingles on and install right over the top of them with a new layer. 

This can cause major problems in the future, and any savings wasted if you have to pay for another new roof within a few years.

Only by removing the old shingles can a roofing contractor tell what condition your decking is truly in.

Also, the weight of two or more layers of roofing can put a strain on your home.

For the cost of a small dumpster for the old shingles and a little extra labor, you can give yourself peace of mind that your roof has been done right.

Check the Attic

If the idea of walking on your roof, much less getting on a ladder makes you queasy, you can check for water damage without requiring years of therapy.

If you have access to your attic, many water issues and roofing problems can be spotted by sweeping the deck boards overhead with a flashlight.

If you see water stains or drips on the plywood under your shingles, you probably have bad roofing.

Just like checking the valleys outside, be extra mindful of spots where different slopes of your roof meet. Also, check around any fans or plumbing vents for drips or moisture.

In addition to water, if you see any daylight peaking through your roof, please call a professional immediately.

To-do List From the Ground

  • Take a look for any sagging and possibly missing shingles.  These symptoms are almost certainly signs that your roof needs repairing.
  • Getting a proper home inspection prior to your purchase will not only identify shoddy workmanship but can also be used as leverage to get the seller to foot the bill for a replacement.
  • Contact your local building department to find out if and when the roof was permitted. If a permit was acquired, it will not only verify the age of the roof but also increase the chances that it was properly installed.

Signs of a Bad Roofing Job – Only the Beginning

Beyond knowing the signs of a bad roofing job, there are many other considerations to make when purchasing real estate.

So, whether it’s your first time buying a home or if you’re a seasoned investor, a proper home inspection can help ensure a healthy home and sound investment.

If you are looking at purchasing residential or commercial property in Northeast Ohio, please contact us to schedule an inspection.